New fellowship to tackle energy waste and carbon emissions in industrial processes

Thursday, 07 October 2021

A University of Nottingham researcher has landed one of just two new prestigious Fellowships announced this week by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng).

The joint industry-academia partnerships aim to strengthen links between research universities and businesses with a view to developing transformational technologies.

Each five-year Fellowship is co-sponsored by an industrial partner and awardees will establish a world-leading research group in their engineering field.

Nottingham’s Dr Liliana de Lillo will collaborate with ITT Industrial Process for her RAEng Senior Research Fellowship in Advanced Embedded Motor Drive technologies; with the aim to reduce global energy waste and CO2 emissions.

Dr de Lillo explains: “The world needs more energy but there is also a global drive to reduce carbon emissions. Innovative technologies are required to achieve this balance, and the electrification of multiple sectors such as automotive and aerospace is gathering pace. Some 28 per cent of global electricity is used in industrial motors, of which 85 per cent are run at full speed and use mechanical systems to regulate the output, which is wasteful.

“Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) technologies allow these motors to run at an optimum speed. While very significant savings can be made using VFD technologies they require a clean, temperature-controlled environment and expensive filters and cables to connect to the motors. Installation costs are prohibitively expensive and typically take many years to recover.”

Dr de Lillo’s research focuses on Embedded Motor Drives, where the VFD is integrated into the motor so that only a direct replacement of an old motor is necessary in order to reduce energy use during the manufacturing process, as well as the amount of raw materials needed. Her innovations will ensure that the through-life energy losses are minimised, resulting in reduced running costs and CO2 emissions.

Dr Liliana de Lillo

“This partnership has the opportunity to develop new technologies that solve real-world problems with meaningful commercial and global sustainability impacts. The prestige of the Royal Academy of Engineering and its award in cooperation with ITT and the University of Nottingham will act as a catalyst to accelerate this research activity,” adds Dr de Lillo.

Commenting on the latest awards, Professor Karen Holford CBE FREng FLSW, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University and Chair of the Academy’s Research Committee, says: “These awardees illustrate brilliantly how expert engineering researchers, when partnered with industry, underpin the success of UK engineering research and innovation. The kind of work we are seeing illustrates why government has demonstrated such confidence in the economic value of our sector through its Innovation Strategy.”

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More information is available from Dr de Lillo on or 0115 974 84745 or Emma Lowry Media Relations Manager (Engineering) on or 0115 84 67156.

Emma Lowry - Media Relations Manager Engineering
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Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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